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There’s a small painful lump in my left armpit and I THINK it’s a clogged pore because I don’t think you get cancer overnight but maybe it’s been there forever and it just started hurting today except it hurts exactly like a zit but maybe that’s what cancer hurts like I don’t know so I am alternating between trying to pop it and telling myself it is totally not cancer except that what if it IS cancer and I’m trying to pop it and that can’t possibly be a good idea and when I asked my nurse practitioner about that a few years ago she said that knowing me, I would try to pop it but she didn’t actually say if that would make the cancer worse, like it would make it angry and it would start punching me in the vital organs and I’m pretty sure it’s a clogged pore and oh god what if this is how I’m going to die and all the chickens of absurd good fortune I enjoy have finally come home to roost and I can’t go to the doctor right away because if they try to do a biopsy and it’s just a zit I’ll be in excruciating pain just so the techs can laugh at me.

You know, I bet that happens all the time.

I think it’s just a clogged pore.

Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.

Try massaging it with a hot compress. If it is a clogged pore, that should help bring some of the mass to the surface. If nothing happens, probably not a clogged pore.

Offhand analysis from dealing with years of foster rats' abscesses, and learning to differentiate them from tumors, so make of that what you will.

Good luck!


That happened to me, but on the lip of my labia*. I was convinced it was either cancer or some sort of STD. It turned out to be a spot. I'd give it 3 days and see what it does, and then go and see someone about it if it hasn't become Obviously a Spot.

* I know etymologically that's a horrid sentence.

Aaaargh labial zits are the worst. THE WORST.

I had something like what you're describing a few years ago. It was diagnosed as a very unremarkable cyst; I went on some antibiotics and steroids to dry it out. Worst part was I couldn't shave my pits for a couple of weeks. I hope you can go it checked out soon and receive similar reassurance. :)

A few years ago I noticed a lump on my hip, I thought it was a pimple or bug bite maybe (it really hurt though) and then woke up the next morning with it tripled in size and throbbing. Turns out I had a staph infection and it got to be the size of a orange before I managed to get it lanced (actually I had my boyfriend cut it open...I was in so much pain I didn't care I just wanted it opened, instant relief)

but if it is that, make sure you take the antibiotics religiously because a few months later I got another abscess in my armpit. And another round of even stronger antibiotics...

For the love of fuzzy ducklings, don't squeeze it! Let's just say I learned that the hard way.

Warm compresses are great. Soak it in a hot bath... a pitz bath if you will. :-)

Because you don't want it to rupture internally, even if it is just a cyst or blocked pore! Also learned the hard way ...

Yeah, sounds like a cyst. They're quite common in one's groin or armpit - I had a couple in my armpit years ago (leftover golden staph infection from hospital, hooray) when travelling, which was horribly painful. Warm compresses help; if you don't have any relief in a day or so, see a doctor for antibiotics.

I join the 'don't squeeze a blocked pore' crowed, at least - don't squeeze it until it has a clear whitehead on it that you can pop with tweezers. I once got a ridiculous infection from trying to pop a blocked pore on my chest (mind you, then i put undiluted dettol on it, which killed off a layer of skin but NOT the infected pore...).

Teatree oil will dry it out and may or may not assist in clearing / drawing out the gunk. It certainly won't do you any harm...

You could go to a doctor, and say 'this hurts pls stop it'. I had a doctor tweeze the infected pore of yesteryear, if that helps? It won't go STRAIGHT TO BIOPSY...

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This. Still check with your doctor.
But an ouch in the breast can also be a mastitis. I'm actually followed for one in the right milk pouch, and it hurt like a son of a lich.
The doctor actually told me: " Good new then, it's probably not a cancer!"
I nearly strangled him with his stethoscope.

I had exactly that, and it sounds the same. By the time I got to the doc to fix it, it had opened on its own. Hope yours is equally unproblematic.

You should go to the doc even if it is a clogged pore because if it hurts, it's infected. I have thick skin that gets those a lot, and left alone they're not pleasant. Much better than cancer, but not good.

Echoing all the advice here: if it hurts, it's probably a cyst or blocked pore. They are super common in pits and groins. Also, if it changes in size/pain/whatever over a few days, it's probably a cyst/blocked pore. Compresses are good. And you /probably/ shouldn't squeeze, but as someone who has a remarkably low will save against that kind of thing, you might want to be prepared for accidental projectiles if you should decide to squeeze.

May also be an inflamed lymph node. Is it time for your period?

Or bubonic plague! That would be horrible, but really kind of cool at the same time.

I would go get it checked out only because it's just wise, but it's likely nothing at all bad. Is it close to the surface or deep inside? And is it hard like a dried pea, or is it softer and sort of mobile? It sounds from your description kind of soft and right on top of the skin, right? If it's softer, it's more likely a cyst; if it's a hard, pea-like lump, it could be any one of a number of other things.

*HOW* much coffee had you drunk when you wrote this?
Sounds all like good advice here, anyway. Got nothing to add to that, except get out some shirts with sleeves, so if you can't shave the pits for a couple of weeks, they're covered.
Good thing it happened in the fall, not summer, eh?

If you use antiperspirant, it may be a cyst.

My father had one and ignored it until it was the size of a golf ball, at which point he grudgingly had it removed and then had to deal with cleaning the cavity where it had been until it healed up. I would suggest seeing somebody before this is necessary.